Covers sport across NZME's print, digital and radio brands.

Cricket: T20 axemen slash confidence of opponents in winning formula

Colin Munro bats during the first T20 match between New Zealand and Pakistan at Eden Park. Photo / Getty Images
Colin Munro bats during the first T20 match between New Zealand and Pakistan at Eden Park. Photo / Getty Images

Never underrate a swift cameo in the second innings of a T20.

In a list of the top 10 strike rates of players who scored 25 or more batting second, all helped their teams win.

That statistic is telling.

The batsmen took only anywhere from nine (the West Indies' Darren Sammy) to 23 balls (the Netherlands' Stephan Myburgh) to inflict their damage but it changed the direction of those games.

The cricketing world has made a quantum leap from once respecting any carefully compiled century off less than a run-a-ball, to revering the likes of Yuvraj Singh slugging 50 off a world record 12 deliveries, since the advent of T20.

First innings blasts are valuable because of their ability to wrest the initiative away from the opposition, but the ability to do it in the pressure of a chase can hold extra merit.

In essence, it's because such axemen free up resources within a maximum of 120 balls. That allows other players time to compose themselves and drill further towards a total.

In a list of 24 international players scoring at a strike rate of 260 or better, their teams went on to win in 19 or 79 per cent of those contests.

Strike rate is the new average.

It's always been the modus operandi of Brendon McCullum as an opener. Blast away, as he did during the 50-over World Cup, and your teammates reap the benefits. If you get out cheaply, little is lost other than one wicket, especially with a barnacle like Kane Williamson entering next.

New Zealand's World T20 team will be brimming with such resources in March. Coach Mike Hesson's reservoir of sabermetrics, alongside his mentoring and analyst teams, are ensuring all batsmen use the depth of the crease, clear their hips with their swing, and have a wide range of options to adjust to the funkiest of field settings.

By the end of the home summer, and before they get to India, each batsman must be imbued with the belief he can win a match under pressure, as they were before the World Cup.

Even in the post-McCullum era, this seems plausible. None of New Zealand's preferred top five in the T20 format - Martin Guptill, Williamson, Colin Munro, Corey Anderson and Ross Taylor - have a strike rate under 120. Grant Elliott at No6 slips to 99, but every cricket fan in the country knows his second innings capabilities under pressure.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 29 Oct 2016 13:24:08 Processing Time: 471ms